The Blockheads

London, US
Artist / Band / Musician
Funk / Pop Punk
Here is our brand new video Greed - with cameos from Martin Freeman, Toby Jones and Rowland Rivron, Directed and photographed by Stuart Harris

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The Blockheads: Official Biography
Ian Dury and The Blockheads had several hit singles, including What a Waste, Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick (which was a UK number one at the beginning of 1979, selling just short of a million copies), Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3 (number three in the UK in 1979), and the rock’n’roll anthem Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, often credited with introducing the phrase to the world.
Dury's lyrics are a unique combination of lyrical poetry, word play, observation of everyday, British working-class life, acute character sketches, and vivid, earthy humour. The Blockheads' identifiable sound drew from their many musical influences, including jazz, rock’n’roll, funk, and reggae, plus Dury's love of music hall.
In 1977 Charley Charles (drums) and Norman Watt-Roy (bass) from Radio Caroline’s Loving Awareness Band went into recording sessions for an album with Ian Dury and and co-writer, pianist and guitarist, Chaz Jankel. Former Kilburn and the High Roads sax player Davey Payne, featured on one track.
When the album was completed every major British record label in London passed on it. Next door to Dury's manager's office was the newly formed Stiff Records, which proved to be the perfect home for Ian Dury’s maverick style. The classic single Sex & Drugs & Rock and Roll marked Dury's Stiff debut and this was followed by the album New Boots and Panties!!, which went on to achieve platinum status.
It was obvious that extra musicians were needed to play the songs live so Charley and Norman put forward their fellow band members from Loving Awareness Mick Gallagher (Keyboards) and John Turnbull (guitar). These musicians already had a rich musical pedigree with John and Mick having started playing together in the band Skip Bifferty (which formed in 1966) and Norman and John first playing together in 1972 in the band Glencoe.
The name “The Blockheads” came about when drummer Charley Charles was listening to the lyrics of the song Blockheads, in particular the line – “shoes like dead pigs noses,” and realised it described his own shoes. From that moment on, it was decided that the band were Blockheads themselves.
By October 1977, Dury and his band re-branded themselves Ian Dury & The Blockheads and signed up for the Stiff Live Stiffs Tour alongside Elvis Costello And The Attractions, Nick Lowe, Wreckless Eric, and Larry Wallis.
By 1978, after the commercial and critical success of the Stiff tour, the band officially billed themselves as Ian Dury & The Blockheads and went back out on tour without Chaz Jankel, and released the single What A Waste that reached 5 in the UK charts. Saxophonist Davey Payne officially joined the band that toured North America with Lou Reed, and ended the tour with a string of Californian dates under their own moniker.
In late 1978 Chaz returned to the fold and co-wrote Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick with Ian. The band recorded it in The Workhouse Studios, Old Kent Road, London. Hit Me reached Number one on January 27th 1979 having been in the charts since November 23 1978, and in the process, sold a staggering 979,000 copies.
Ian Dury & The Blockheads went on to record the Do It Yourself album (which also went on to achieve platinum status) and toured Europe and the UK recording Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3 in Rome. Originally issued as a single in late 1979, the song reached number three in the UK charts. The album artwork for Do It Yourself ,of which there were over a dozen variations all based on samples from the Crown wallpaper catalogue was designed by the late Barney Bubbles.
In 1980 Jankel left The Blockheads again; this time to concentrate on a solo career. He was replaced by former Dr. Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson, who also contributed to the next album Laughter which featured the singles I Want To Be Straight and Sueperman’s Big Sister. They toured the UK, Europe and Australia in 1981 and were sometimes augmented by Don Cherry on trumpet. However, by the end of the year, Ian Dury & The Blockheads disbanded.
The band did reunite in 1990 when the death of Charley Charles in September of that year re-united them to play two Benefit gigs at The Forum, Camden Town in aid of Charlies' family. Chaz returned from America and Steven Monti picked up the drumsticks for the hottest ticket in town. The band, now augmented by Merlin Rhys-Jones on guitar and Will Parnell on percussion, recorded a live album 'Warts & Audience' at the Brixton Academy in December 1990. The band reconvened, sporadically, for live shows over the next few years.
Following Dury's diagnosis with colorectal cancer in 1996, Ian Dury & The Blockheads returned to the studio to record the critically acclaimed 1998 comeback album Mr. Love Pants which was supported by a number of live dates. Dylan Howe replaced Steve Monti on drums, and saxophonist Davey Payne (having left the band for personal reasons) was replaced by Gilad Atzmon.
Later that same year, Dury’s death was incorrectly announced on XFM radio by Bob Geldof, possibly due to hoax information from a listener. Upon hearing of his illness Dury took the opportunity to marry his girlfriend, sculptor Sophy Tilson.
Ian Dury & The Blockheads' last performance was a charity concert in aid of Cancer Bacup on 6th February 2000 at The London Palladium, supported by Kirsty MacColl and Phill Jupitus.
Dury died of metastatic liver cancer on 27 March 2000. The Guardian newspaper’s obituary read: "One of few true originals of the English music scene.” He was described by Suggs, the singer with Madness, as "possibly the finest lyricist we've seen."
After Dury's wife Sophy found a list of songs under the title Ten More Turnips From The Tip among her husband's papers she informed the band. The Blockheads then started laying down backing tracks to the vocals and demos that Ian had previosuly recorded in order to finish his swansong.
At his funeral, The Blockheads performed You're The Why (a Dury/Jankel composition) that Ian never got to record. Robbie Williams offered his services to sing lead vocals on the song which ended up being the final track on the album.
The Blockheads, along with Robbie Williams, Madness, Neneh Cherry, Phill Jupitus, Mark Lamaar, Keith Allen, and others, played a special "Tribute to Ian" gig on June 16, 2000, at the Brixton Academy. Some participants of this show along with Paul McCartney , Sinead O’ Connor and Shane Macgowan joined The Blockheads in the studio for the tribute album Brand New Boots and Panties.
Following an emotional and successful show by the band at Dingwalls in Camden The Blockheads decided to carry on and Derek The Draw (who had been in the extended Blockhead family for years prior to Ian's death) took to the stage with them. Johnny Turnbull (guitar) was the lead singer of The Blockheads from 2001 – 2004 and Derek started to share the position with him.
In 2004 the Blockheads released the studio album Where's The Party? In 2005 the band released the live DVD (and iTunes only Album) The Blockheads: Live In Colchester (originally recorded in 2004).
Since 2002 the band have rarely been off the road, playing literally hundreds of dates (memorably stealing the show at The Big Chill in 2006). The band embarked on a successful 30th anniversary tour in 2007 featuring Phill Jupitus as a very special guest vocalist. The New Boots And Panties!! album was played in its entirety as a special part of the show.
A live album (available as Part 1 and Part 2), entitled 30 – Live At The Electric Ballroom, April 17 2008, is only available digitally from iTunes, Amazon, etc., was released in 2008 to celebrate the band’s 30th anniversary and featured Davey Payne who is now, happily, a sporadic live member of the line-up.
In 2008 The Blockheads returned to Glastonbury and were hailed by Michael Eavis as one of his four musical highlights of the festival.
The Blockheads will released a brand new studio album via EMI entitled Staring Down The Barrel in April 2009 and after a busy summer 2 appearances at Glastonbury, Festivals abroad, Beautiful Days and Madstock) they will embark on a nationwide UK tour in December.
The current line-up includes Chaz Jankel (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Norman Watt-Roy (bass), Mickey Gallagher (Hammond Organ, piano, synths), John Turnbull (guitar, vocals), Dylan Howe (drums), Gilad Atzmon (sax), and Derek The Draw (aka Derek Hussey; vocals). Derek was Dury’s oldest friend and minder, and co-wrote all the songs with Jankel on the forthcoming album.

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